Thursday, May 22, 2014

More Danish Chamber Music

Vagn Holmboe
During the Second World War, the Danish musicologist and critic Jürgen Balzer (1906-1976), acting in an advisory capacity to the Copenhagen branch of the Gramophone Company, established a recorded anthology of Danish music of all historical periods.  Under the aegis of this "Edition Balzer" some 50 works were recorded on 78-rpm records, including many small-scale gems of chamber music that could be accommodated complete on one record, as with the three examples I offer here:

Finn Høffding: Dialogues, Op, 10 (1927)
Waldemar Wolsing, oboe; P. Allin Erichsen, clarinet
Recorded c. January, 1951
HMV DB 5274, one 78-rpm record
Link (FLAC files, 50.17 MB)
Link (MP3 files, 27.43 MB)

Flemming Weis: Serenade Without Serious Intentions (1938)
Wind Quintet of 1932
Recorded Sept. 30, 1949
HMV DB 5293, one 78-rpm record
Link (FLAC file, 24.56 MB)
Link (MP3 file, 15.20 MB)

Vagn Holmboe: Serenata for flute, violin, cello and piano, Op. 18 (1940)
The Danish Quartet (Erling Bloch, violin)
Recorded c. Spring 1950
HMV DB 5297, one 78-rpm record
Link (FLAC file, 19.54 MB)
Link (MP3 file, 13.50 MB)

Of these three composers, Holmboe (1909-1996), pictured above in characteristic pose with his pipe, is by far the best known; his music, including 13 symphonies and 20 string quartets, has been disseminated fairly widely since the advent of CD, but this unpublished three-movement Serenata does not appear to have been recorded since.  Høffding (1899-1997), who was Holmboe's teacher at the Royal Danish Academy of Music, specialized in music for amateur performers, and excerpts from his "Dialogues" have been presented by several students on Youtube videos.  There are five movements, which are presented in a different order on the record than in the published score; accordingly, I present two files containing the complete work in both orderings, and you can be the judge which sequence you prefer.  For me, the real find here is the delightful piece by Weis (1898-1981), a composer about whom I can find out very little, save that he trained as an organist and has two symphonies to his credit.  This one-movement serenade for wind quintet is in several contrasting sections, by turns wistful and dance-like, beginning and ending with a polka.


  1. Very interesting! Thanks for sharing, Bryan!

  2. Many, many thanks for posting these little treasures!

    Mike in Plovdiv

  3. Thank you very much for these niece pieces!

  4. Thanks Bryan. I came across some info on Flemming Weiss here -

    1. Thanks for the link! I notice that his dating of the Serenade (1926) is twelve years' difference from that of my other source...

  5. Thank you for this. It appears that this is the only recording thus far of the Holmboe work!

  6. Yet again, I seem to have overlooked your generous and valuable post - thanks so much for all your hard work! Top sleuthing, too, as your estimated recording date for the Weis Serenade is very close to the one I found in René Aagaard's very useful discography of Danish classical recordings made under the auspices of Det Danske Selskab (now the Danish Culture Institute) - it's the fourth listed on this page:

    Aagaard gives 12 September 1949 for the Weis. He doesn't have precise dates or take numbers for everything, though - in fact, he has no matrices for the Holmboe, and the Høffding isn't listed. Still, it's a very interesting discography! Thanks again and best wishes, as ever, Grumpy